Not keeping up

So, back in December I wrote about a bunch of plans for 2017. And so far, I've done a very poor job of hitting any of them. Here's a rundown

Quite Time Alone: I've done this a few times, and I find it very invigorating, but also not something I can do a lot. My mind tends to wander and I don't get the full experience so much as a meandering walk through my thoughts. Not that such a walk is a bad thing. Its allowed me to work through issues or ideas. But its not what I want to get out of it. I plan to redouble my efforts to spend some time along each week.

Meditation: I've done alright on this. While I haven't done 15 minutes 3 days a week, what I have done is 10 minutes 2-3 mornings a week. As for the mindfulness meditation, I've given up on that specific idea as not really for me. I've also added a weekly yoga practice to my mind/body regiment.

Reading: I haven't "read" as much recently. Part of this is because of a change to the audiobook checkout system my library uses that has mostly locked me out.

Professional Development: This is still ongoing. While I haven't made progress, I didn't set any short term goals either.

HPR: I haven't done an HPR show, yet. But I do have one in the planning stages. We'll see how quickly I get this turned out.

Writing: As is abundantly clear, I haven't been writing nearly as much as I'd planned on. Part of that is that I don't have as much to say as I thought. Part of it is that when I do, I'm not in a place to say it. Part of it is lack of energy. And part of it is simple laziness.

So, there it is. I'll try to do a better job going forward.

/x

On Family

Family is a strange and wonderful thing.

The best, and most important, thing I've learned about family is that its not determined solely by biology. Being related is not the same as being family. Often times they are. Bonds are formed out of long term exposure and similar up-bringing. But this isn't the only, or the most meaningful, kind of family. The more meaningful kind of family are the people you meet in life that you know, without a doubt, will always be there for you, and you'll always be there for them.

I've been really lucky. I have both. It took me quite a while to connect with the family I was born into, because of age differences and because of who I was as a teenager, but I'm finally making those connections and am grateful for the chance. We're a group of nerdy foodies and its a wonderful experience.

As for the family I've found, this includes a whole slew of folks that have very much made my life better and more complete. This probably started at about 14, thou I didn't realize it at the time. I slowly made a friend, and he became a brother. His family became mine, and mine his. That was 16 years ago, and it hasn't changed. At 17 I met a young woman and found the other half of myself. At 18 I met another brother, a other whole family almost 1000 miles away from where I was born. And now, as I enter my 30's I've connected with more people than I can could that are like cousins or aunts/uncles.

To all of you, I love you. I appreciate you, and I'll always be there for you when you need me. You've gotten me through some of the best and worst parts of my life. You've stood with my as I've taken my vows, and I've stood with you. I would not be who I am today without you.

/x1101

Dealing with a bad situation

2015 VW Golf

I've had some practical experince in the last few weeks at learning how to remain calm, polite, and focused in a rather crappy situation. This has been especially hard because I caused this situation.

The short version is, I had a dumb. I was distracted while pulling into my driveway and hit a large ice pile (iceberg, I swear). I was mildly concerned about my car and got out to do a cursory inspection. I found nothing looking amiss on the exterior, and assumed all was well. I pulled it into my garage and heard/saw fluid gushing out the bottom of the car. Now, I'm no gear-head, but even I realized that was likely really bad.

Much damage was done, and then the saga of bad luck really began in earnest. This was a holiday weekend, so fuck-all happened that day. Then my lovely wife had it towed to our local mechanic who said he could take care of it and just needed the insurance adjuster to come out before he got started. Except that took 3 more days. And then, when re-assessing the damage, he determined he couldn't do the work. So we had to have it taken to another shop. Which took an entier day (the car moved like 4 miles). And didn't arrive until about 15:30 on a Friday. So, again, fuck-all happens. This makes a week where literally no progress has been made.

That entire week I worked from home. This is not a think I care to do. I much prefer to be in the office.

Then, on the Monday of the second week, the in-house estimator at the dealership was out. Then I was promised that they'd get it up on Tuesday and start looking at it. And that I'd have a call back by close of business that day. Didn't happen. The same happened on Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday determinations were made and parts ordered.

But that wasn't the only misfortune. To compensate for being car-less, I rented a car. This was surprisingly harder than expected. I had gone down to pick it up, and was informed that local policy stated that I had to have a credit card to pick up the car (after careful scrutiniy of the online reservation, I still cannot find this). This is problematic because neither my wife no I typically carry credit cards. While I have the restraint not to use it, I aid that restraint by simply not having it around. So, my wife and I had made a ~50 mile trip for nothing.

I finally got the rental car two days later, and am still waiting to see if my car gets finished on time.

Its been real challenge to not lash out at folks during this trying time, and one I've not always been up to. A few times I've lost my temper with folks (the rather understanding people at the car rental counter). But, the one major time I did, I went back a moment later and appologized. its undrestandable (but not acceptable) to loose your cool in a bad situtaion. Its NOT understandable to not acknowledge when you've been a tool and take responsibility.

So, this one's on me, and its been a real trip, but overall I think I've done OK not loosing my cool over all of it.

/x1101

Day of the Tentacle on 64bit Arch Linux

So I recently bought the Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle primarily because it had a few really cool sounding games that have native Linux support. And, being a Linux enthusiast, the best way to get more Linux games is to buy Linux games! But, being Linux, getting these games running isn't as simple as double-clicking an icon. So, here's my write up on what it took to get one of them (Day of the Tentacle, but Doublefine) running.

My Setup: I'm currently running a new installation of Arch Linux (x86_64) with the mesa drivers (for intel video cards).

Before installing packages, you'll need to have multilib enabled.

Packages I needed to install:

  • lib32-glibc
  • lib32-ncurses
  • lib32-libstdc++5
  • lib32-mesa
  • lib32-libgudev
  • lib32-libxrandr
  • lib32-libpulse
  • lib32-alsa-plugins

I found two other quirks that needed addressed. First was getting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH correct. Due to the structure of /usr/lib32/ and my 32bit openGL drivers not beeing found (they were in /usr/lib32/mesa. I did this by adding a line to /etc/ld.so.conf.d/lib32-glibc.conf like so

% cat /etc/ld.so.conf.d/lib32-glibc.conf
/usr/lib32
/usr/lib32/mesa

I don't know for sure if this is needed (this isn't an ordered list of what I did, but an summary and analysis of what should be required) as one of the other packages above might have corrected that for me.

Additionally, I had to launch Day of the Tentacle with a command line argument the first time and select a sound card, like so

./Dott --list-audio-devices
./Dott --audio-devices 0

And that should all that's required. If you find that I missed something, drop me a line and I'll update this guide as best I can.

/x1101

On being an empath

So I've recently come to terms with the fact that I'm pretty strongly empathic.

http://trekcore.com/gallery/albums/deannatroi/farpoint2_025.jpg

And no, I don't mean Diana Troi emapthic either. I mean that when I am around someone feeling emotions strongly, I tend to feel an echo of them. Its rather interesting, and not always plesant.

Odd things happen. I tear up during powerful songs. Not just sorrowful songs, or songs that I really like, but anything powerful. Any song where the performer is pouring out emotion both in the content and delivery. Whatever that emotion is, a bit of it tends to rub off on me. Almost as if emotions were contagious, and I have little to no immunity. While this sometimes makes me quick to anger (especially when the other people involved are angry), it also makes me want to help people. The real struggle comes along because I'm also a fixer. I fix things. Its what I do. All day, every day. So, when I see people hurt, I want to fix that too. But often you can't. Some hurts can only be fixed with time. And so far we can only do time at one speed.

I think this, as much as my other reasons, is why writing is so good for me. It provides a fairly safe outlet for all these feelings that weren't mine to begin with, but I'm still feeling. And I know for a fact that venting through the keyboard works. But sometimes all these emotions, mine or reflected, are just exhausting. I'll sit down, all wrapped up one way or another, and the let things flow through my fingers. And a few minutes later I'll feel like a wrung out wash cloth.

Be kind and sensitive out there, you never know who else is feeling your emotions.

/x1101

A week of firsts

As is fitting for the first week of the year, I've had several firsts this week. Mostly, its the first week I've been putting effort into my 2017 plan. Here's a quick update on the things I've accomplished.

  • I made it to the gym twice this week. I wasn't as effective there as I'd like to be, but part of that was due to unrelated mental state. I hope to do better in the coming week
  • I made time to meditate twice this week, but didn't specifically practice any midnfulness meditation.
  • I spent about 1/2 of a commute to work with just myself.

Bouns firsts (not directly related to stated goals):

  • My employer hosts a yoga class on Thursdays each week. I joined in for the first (and not last) time this week. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I was sore for a few days after from a few of the poses that I was a bit over-eager with.
  • This is the first post that's being written on my new laptop, after a bit of an ordeal (maybe more on that later).
  • I made spicy yellow curry paste (I'm lead to believe this is the Indian style) from scratch, and then part of that became curry. It was quite good.

All of these together lead me to feeling like I'm in the dirvers seat of my life for the first time in quite a while. I've spent so much time reacting to the situations around me, that's its been a nice change to feel like I'm a little more in control of the chaos for once.

Go out, have a first, and enjoy.

/x1101

Mindfulness for Beginners

So I decided to get a jump on my Plan for 2017 and "read" a book well outside my usual wheelhouse. A little background first, before I get into the meat of my thoughts on this book. Firstly, as I noted already, I've begun studying buddhism recently. I've thus far found it an interesting perspective on life. The Dali Lama said it best. I'm not studying buddhism to be buddhist. I'm studying it to have another tool to be a better me. But that's not _really_ the point of this post, since I've mostly covered that already. Its relevant because the book I'm reading is about Mindfulness and meditation. Its called Mindfulness for Beginners by John Kabat-Zinn. So far I have very mixed feelings about this book. While I find his points on the benefits of midfulness and mindful meditation insightful, its couched in very new-agey language. Its focused a lot on spirituality, and that's not really a thing that I'm looking for. The most amusing part its, several times in the portion I've already read, he's implied that this isn't "just some new-agey mumbo jumbo", and then turned around and sounded exactly like what he says he isn't.

UPDATE: I was unable to listen to much more of the book. The second half was a collection of mindfulness meditations that did not fit with my goals, nor how I consume my books.

Planning for 2017

So I've never really been one for New Years resolutions or setting goals, and that's probably not a good thing. It likely shows a lack of forethought and willpower. But whatever. Just because I haven't done so in the past, that doesn't actually prevent me from doing so moving forward (while that seems obvious, that occurred to me fairly recently). I've been doing a lot of introspection recently, and have come up with some things I want to do in the next year. To help me stick to that, I'm going to try to write about it more often (actually, that's also one of the things I want to do, but I digress). So, without any additional preamble, here are at least some of the things I want to work on, and hold myself accountable to, in 2017.

  • Spend more quite time alone
    • Why: I spend a decent amount of time alone, with nearly an hour commute each way for work. Along with other household responsibilities, there's plenty of time there for some reflection. But I'm not reflecting. I spend all of this time consuming things. Audio books, podcasts, music, etc. I keep jamming new thoughts into my head, without giving them the space to roll around and resolve.
    • Tangible Goal: Spend at least one commute each week with nothing playing.
  • Meditation
    • Why: In the few months I've been dabbling in sporadic medidataion, I've found that the times I do it, its very helpful. It helps me be calm, and more with the introspection. I feel better and more in control of myself when I do this.
    • Tangible Goal: Meditate for at least 15 minutes, at least 3 days a week.
    • Tangible Goal: Practice Mindful Meditation at least once per week.
  • Read different things
    • Why: I read (and listen to audiobooks. Which, while very different, I'm going to call the same thing here, because I really mean "consume books") quite a bit. But its a lot of the same kinds of things. SicFi, Cyberpunk, Fantasy (a lot of Urban Fantasy recently). While any of those genres has enough sub-genres to produce more than a lifetime of entertainment, its not doing a lot to make me well rounded.
    • Tangible Goal: At least one of the books I "read" each month should be something outside of my usual selection. Mysteries, Noir, Religion, Non-Fiction, Historical Fiction. Anything other than "more of the same"
  • Professional Development
    • Why: I've never really given much thought to my career path. I've just kind of taken things as they come. I feel that I need to start being a bit more active in directing my professional development. This way I can do more than be what my employer needs me to be. I can star being what I want to be.
    • Tangible Goal: Achieve at least one professional certification in 2017
    • Tangible Goal: Come up with 5/10/15 year goals before the end of 2017
  • Fitness
    • Why: I've never put much thought into being healthy, long term. I don't eat that well. I'm not very active. I really should do something about that
    • Tangible Goal: Go to the gym at least 2 days a week.
    • Tangible Goal: Get to or below 250lbs (I am starting this at 270lbs)
  • HPR
    • Why: HPR is a fantastic podcasting community (seriously, if you don't know them, go check them out). I want to contribute more to them
    • Tangible Goal: Release at least 2 HPR shows in 2017. (Solo shows, if doing collaboration shows, do more!)
  • Write more often:
    • Why: Since I started this site, I've found that writing really does help me sort through my thoughts and put the into some kind of order. Its yet another excercise in introspection.
    • Tangible Goal: Post at least one reflection every week.
    • Tangible Goal: Post monthly on my progress with these goals.

Audio Gear

I've gotten into several chats about what audio gear I use for Urandom (not because it sounds so good, usually just other folks looking for inexpensive but functional audio kit), so I decided to put a list together.

Mostly this post is just so I can always have a single page to link folks to.

Hit me with questions or better suggestions

/x1101

Facebook Break

Taking a Facebook break

Starting today, I'm taking a break from Facebook.

I've found that I spend too much energy on it, without getting anything in return. My newsfeed seems to be filled with nothing but political name calling, negativity, useless articles, advertising for random junk that I don't want or need in my life, and the endless crush of narcissism. With a smattering of garden variety foolishness on top.

We all have a finite amount of energy each day/week/month/whatever, and I've been spending some of mine recently in considering where I've been spending the rest, and what I'm getting back in return. One of the biggest costs without much return is Facebook. As most of you notice, I don't post much. As many of you know, that's rarely because I am want for something to say. I've just found that Facebook isn't where or how I want to say it. I don't feel like I can take the time to reflect on something and order my thoughts while participating. And I know that when I don't I often say things without being informed, or considering them. And I'm making an effort to be more deliberate with what I say, as well as what I do.

I'm not pulling away from being social. I'm just choosing to focus my energy in different ways. If you want to talk with me about something, and don't mind the friction of leaving Facebook to do it, I'd be glad of it. I'll keep messenger installed, as well as hangouts, email, SMS, Twitter, and good old fashioned face to face chats. I want to talk with you. I'm sure you have something to teach me, if I'm willing to empty my cup and listen. And that's what I'm trying to do.

I hope that I'll be writing more here in the time I'll get back, but only when I have something to say.

/x1101 (Lyle)